Talking to a few people recently I’ve discovered that most, including myself, know fairly little about the swine flu epidemic that western media says is going to kill us all. I emphasize western media here simply because I’m not seeing the same kind of attention or reaction from Arab media, and the reasons of that may be numerous, but my favorite is what I like to think of as western media’s love for sensationalist, apocalyptic-like stories. For instance, on CNN, a guy spent half an hour telling viewers what to buy for their doomsday pack (for those interested, a bottle of hand sanitizer and a face mask might just save your
soul body – or maybe not).
Anyways, back to the point.
Little seems to be known about the whole issue. A few years back you’d probably have to remain glued to the TV to finally get some decent information on it, but, well, suffice to say, thank the good Lord for the Internet. So here’s what I learned thus far:
– Swine flu typically affects only pigs or people who’ve had direct contact with them, but this new strain spreads from person to person without them having any contact with pigs.
– Symptoms are similar to the typical flu symptoms.
– It is treatable with antiviral drugs if delivered within 48 hours.
– You can still eat pork.
– Oil companies and airlines are suffering.
– Pharmaceutical companies are loving it.
So, what about Jordan!?
The government’s response to the virus has been the typical “everything’s OK”. And hey, maybe everything is OK. Who are we to question the government unreasonably? Plus, the whole panic thing is already over done by the media.
But what I find interesting about some of the people I’ve talked to recently is that many are surprised to hear that Jordan even has pigs to begin with. Indeed, Jordan is home to a few pig farms, which have been around for a long time, specifically in Karak and Madaba. Apparently, the owners are Christian (I wonder if there’s a law against Muslim’s and pig farming), and a pig farmer can make at least $5,000 a month, which isn’t bad money at all. [source]
Jordan also has wild pigs somewhere near the Israeli-Jordanian border. Meanwhile, a 26-year-old Israeli man was just diagnosed with swine flu in the Israeli city, Netanya. But not to worry, they have a sense of humor about it.
So there you go. Yes, we do have pigs and pig farms in Jordan. Now I’m not saying that one plus one will equal one or anything, it’s just a fact that I think Jordanians should know before assuming the “Oh we’re a Muslim country so we don’t have any pigs” line of thinking.
More interestingly: Google and its users are tracking the strain using Google Maps:
View H1N1 Swine Flu in a larger map
An interesting timeline of the virus’s spread can be found here.